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  • Title: A Midsummer Night's Dream (Quarto 1, 1600)
  • Editor: Suzanne Westfall
  • ISBN: 978-1-55058-465-3

    Copyright Suzanne Westfall. This text may be freely used for educational, non-profit purposes; for all other uses contact the Editor.
    Author: William Shakespeare
    Editor: Suzanne Westfall
    Not Peer Reviewed

    A Midsummer Night's Dream (Quarto 1, 1600)

    Enter Theseus, Hippolita, with others.
    NOw faire Hippolita, our nuptiall hower
    5Draws on apase: fower happy daies bring in
    An other Moone: but oh, me thinks, how slow
    This old Moone waues! She lingers my desires,
    Like to a Stepdame, or a dowager,
    Long withering out a yong mans reuenewe.
    10Hip. Fower daies will quickly steepe themselues in night:
    Fower nights will quickly dreame away the time:
    And then the Moone, like to a siluer bowe,
    Now bent in heauen, shall beholde the night
    Of our solemnities.
    15The. Goe Philostrate,
    Stirre vp the Athenian youth to merriments,
    Awake the peart and nimble spirit of mirth,
    Turne melancholy foorth to funerals:
    The pale companion is not for our pomp.
    20Hyppolita, I woo'd thee with my sword,
    And wonne thy loue, doing thee iniuries:
    But I will wed thee in another key,
    With pompe, with triumph, and with reueling.
    Enter Egeus and his daughter Hermia, and Lysander
    25 and Helena, and Demetrius.
    Ege. Happy be Theseus, our renowned duke.
    The. Thankes good Egeus. Whats the newes with thee?
    Ege. Full of vexation, come I, with complaint
    Against my childe, my daughter Hermia.
    30Stand forth Demetrius.
    My noble Lord,
    This man hath my consent to marry her.
    Stand forth Lisander.
    And my gratious Duke,
    35This man hath bewitcht the bosome of my childe.
    Thou, thou Lysander, thou hast giuen her rimes,
    And interchang'd loue tokens with my childe:
    Thou hast, by moone-light, at her windowe sung,
    With faining voice, verses of faining loue,
    40And stolne the impression of her phantasie:
    With bracelets of thy haire, rings, gawdes, conceites,
    Knackes, trifles, nosegaies, sweete meates (messengers
    Of strong preuailement in vnhardened youth)
    With cunning hast thou filcht my daughters heart,
    45Turnd her obedience (which is due to mee)
    To stubborne harshnesse. And, my gratious Duke,
    Be it so, she will not here, before your Grace,
    Consent to marry with Demetrius,
    I beg the auncient priuiledge of Athens:
    50As she is mine, I may dispose of her:
    Which shall be, either to this gentleman,
    Or to her death; according to our lawe,
    Immediatly prouided, in that case.
    The. What say you, Hermia? Be aduis'd, faire maid.
    55To you, your father should be as a God:
    One that compos'd your beauties: yea and one,
    To whome you are but as a forme in wax,
    By him imprinted, and within his power,
    To leaue the figure, or disfigure it:
    60Demetrius is a worthy gentleman.
    Her. So is Lisander. The. In himselfe he is:
    But in this kinde, wanting your fathers voice,
    The other must be held the worthier.
    A Midsommer nightes dreame.
    65Her. I would my father lookt but with my eyes.
    The. Rather your eyes must, with his iudgement, looke,
    Her. I doe intreat your grace, to pardon mee.
    I know not by what power, I am made bould;
    Nor how it may concerne my modesty,
    70In such a presence, here to plead my thoughts:
    But I beseech your Grace, that I may knowe
    The worst that may befall mee in this case,
    If I refuse to wed Demetrius.
    The. Either to dy the death, or to abiure,
    75For euer, the society of men.
    Therefore, faire Hermia, question your desires,
    Knowe of your youth, examine well your blood,
    Whether (if you yeelde not to your fathers choyce)
    You can endure the liuery of a Nunne,
    80For aye to be in shady cloyster, mew'd
    To liue a barraine sister all your life,
    Chaunting faint hymnes, to the colde fruitlesse Moone.
    Thrise blessed they, that master so there bloode,
    To vndergoe such maiden pilgrimage:
    85But earthlyer happy is the rose distild,
    Then that, which, withering on the virgin thorne,
    Growes, liues, and dies, in single blessednesse.
    Her. So will I growe, so liue, so die my Lord,
    Ere I will yield my virgin Patent, vp
    90Vnto his Lordshippe, whose vnwished yoake
    My soule consents not to giue souerainty.
    The. Take time to pawse, and by the next newe moone,
    The sealing day, betwixt my loue and mee,
    For euerlasting bond of fellowshippe,
    95Vpon that day either prepare to dye,
    For disobedience to your fathers will,
    Or else to wed Demetrius, as he would,
    Or on Dianaes altar to protest,
    For aye, austeritie and single life.
    A Midsommer nightes dreame.
    100Deme. Relent, sweete Hermia, and, Lysander, yeeld
    Thy crazed title to my certaine right.
    Lys. You haue her fathers loue, Demetrius:
    Let me haue Hermias: doe you marry him.
    Egeus. Scornefull Lysander, true, he hath my loue:
    105And what is mine, my loue shall render him.
    And she is mine, and all my right of her
    I doe estate vnto Demetrius.
    Lysand. I am my Lord, as well deriu'd as hee,
    As well possest: my loue is more than his:
    110My fortunes euery way as fairely rankt
    (If not with vantage) as Demetrius:
    And (which is more then all these boastes can be)
    I am belou'd of beautious Hermia.
    Why should not I then prosecute my right?
    115Demetrius, Ile auouch it to his heade,
    Made loue to Nedars daughter, Helena,
    And won her soule: and she (sweete Ladie) dotes,
    Deuoutly dotes, dotes in Idolatry,
    Vpon this spotted and inconstant man.
    120The. I must confesse, that I haue heard so much;
    And, with Demetrius, thought to haue spoke thereof:
    But, being ouer full of selfe affaires,
    My minde did loose it. But Demetrius come,
    And come Egeus, you shall goe with mee:
    125I haue some priuate schooling for you both.
    For you, faire Hermia, looke you arme your selfe,
    To fit your fancies, to your fathers will;
    Or else, the Law of Athens yeelds you vp
    (Which by no meanes we may extenuate)
    130To death, or to a vowe of single life.
    Come my Hyppolita: what cheare my loue?
    Demetrius and Egeus goe along:
    I must employ you in some businesse,
    Against our nuptiall, and conferre with you
    A Midsommer nightes dreame.
    135Of some thing, nerely that concernes your selues.
    Ege. With duety and desire, we follow you. Exeunt.
    Lysand. How now my loue? Why is your cheeke so pale?
    How chance the roses there doe fade so fast?
    140Her. Belike, for want of raine: which I could well
    Beteeme them, from the tempest of my eyes.
    Lis. Eigh me: for aught that I could euer reade,
    Could euer here by tale or history,
    The course of true loue neuer did runne smoothe:
    145But either it was different in bloud;
    Her. O crosse! too high to be inthrald to loue.
    Lis. Or else misgraffed, in respect of yeares;
    Her. O spight! too olde to be ingag'd to young.
    Lis. Or else, it stoode vpon the choyce of friends;
    150Her. O hell, to choose loue by anothers eyes!
    Lys. Or, if there were a sympathy in choyce,
    Warre, death or sicknesse, did lay siege to it;
    Making it momentany, as a sound;
    Swift, as a shadowe; short, as any dreame;
    155Briefe, as the lightning in the collied night,
    That (in a spleene) vnfolds both heauen and earth;
    And, ere a man hath power to say, beholde,
    The iawes of darkenesse do deuoure it vp:
    So quicke bright things come to confusion.
    160Her. If then true louers haue bin euer crost,
    It stands as an edict, in destiny:
    Then let vs teach our triall patience:
    Because it is a customary crosse,
    As dewe to loue, as thoughts, and dreames, and sighes,
    165Wishes, and teares; poore Fancies followers.
    Lys. A good perswasion: therefore heare mee, Hermia:
    I haue a widowe aunt, a dowager,
    Of great reuenew, and she hath no childe:
    From Athens is her house remote, seauen leagues:
    170And she respectes mee, as her only sonne:
    A Midsommer nightes dreame.
    There, gentle Hermia, may I marry thee:
    And to that place, the sharpe Athenian law
    Can not pursue vs. If thou louest mee, then
    Steale forth thy fathers house, to morrow night:
    175And in the wood, a league without the towne
    (Where I did meete thee once with Helena
    To do obseruance to a morne of May)
    There will I stay for thee.
    Her. My good Lysander,
    180I sweare to thee, by Cupids strongest bowe,
    By his best arrowe, with the golden heade,
    By the simplicitie of Venus doues,
    By that which knitteth soules, and prospers loues,
    And by that fire, which burnd the Carthage queene,
    185When the false Troian vnder saile was seene,
    By all the vowes that euer men haue broke,
    (In number more then euer women spoke)
    In that same place thou hast appointed mee,
    To morrow truely will I meete with thee.
    190Lys. Keepe promise loue: looke, here comes Helena.
    Enter Helena.
    Her. God speede faire Helena: whither away?
    Hel. Call you mee faire? That faire againe vnsay.
    Demetrius loues your faire: o happy faire!
    195Your eyes are loadstarres, and your tongues sweete aire
    More tunable then larke, to sheepeheards eare,
    When wheat is greene, when hauthorne buddes appeare.
    Sicknesse is catching: O, were fauour so,
    Your words I catch, faire Hermia, ere I goe,
    200My eare should catch your voice, my eye, your eye,
    My tongue should catch your tongues sweete melody.
    Were the world mine, Demetrius being bated,
    The rest ile giue to be to you translated.
    O, teach mee how you looke, and with what Art,
    205You sway the mot
    ion of Demetrius heart.
    A Midsommer nightes dreame.
    Her. I frowne vpon him; yet hee loues mee still.
    Hel. O that your frowns would teach my smiles such skil.
    Her. I giue him curses; yet he giues mee loue.
    210Hel. O that my prayers could such affection mooue.
    Her. The more I hate, the more he followes mee.
    Hel. The more I loue, the more he hateth mee.
    Her. His folly, Helena, is no fault of mine.
    Hel. None but your beauty; would that fault were mine.
    215Her. Take comfort: he no more shall see my face:
    Lysander and my selfe will fly this place.
    Before the time I did Lisander see,
    Seem'd Athens as a Paradise to mee.
    O then, what graces in my loue dooe dwell,
    220That hee hath turnd a heauen vnto a hell!
    Lys. Helen, to you our mindes wee will vnfould:
    To morrow night, when Phoebe doth beholde
    Her siluer visage, in the watry glasse,
    Decking, with liquid pearle, the bladed grasse
    225(A time, that louers flights doth still conceale)
    Through Athens gates, haue wee deuis'd to steale.
    Her. And in the wood, where often you and I,
    Vpon faint Primrose beddes, were wont to lye,
    Emptying our bosomes, of their counsell sweld,
    230There my Lysander, and my selfe shall meete,
    And thence, from Athens, turne away our eyes,
    To seeke new friends and strange companions.
    Farewell, sweete playfellow: pray thou for vs:
    And good lucke graunt thee thy Demetrius.
    235Keepe word Lysander: we must starue our sight,
    From louers foode, till morrow deepe midnight.
    Exit Hermia.
    Lys. I will my Hermia. Helena adieu:
    As you on him, Demetrius dote on you. Exit Lysander.
    240Hele. How happie some, ore othersome, can be!
    Through Athens, I am thought as faire as shee.
    A Midsommer nightes dreame.
    But what of that? Demetrius thinkes not so:
    He will not knowe, what all, but hee doe know.
    And as hee erres, doting on Hermias eyes:
    245So I, admiring of his qualities.
    Things base and vile, holding no quantitie,
    Loue can transpose to forme and dignitie.
    Loue lookes not with the eyes, but with the minde:
    And therefore is wingd Cupid painted blinde.
    250Nor hath loues minde of any iudgement taste:
    Wings, and no eyes, figure, vnheedy haste.
    And therefore is loue said to bee a childe:
    Because, in choyce, he is so oft beguil'd.
    As waggish boyes, in game, themselues forsweare:
    255So, the boy, Loue, is periur'd euery where.
    For, ere Demetrius lookt on Hermias eyen,
    Hee hayld downe othes, that he was onely mine.
    And when this haile some heate, from Hermia, felt,
    So he dissolued, and showrs of oathes did melt.
    260I will goe tell him of faire Hermias flight:
    Then, to the wodde, will he, to morrow night,
    Pursue her: and for this intelligence,
    If I haue thankes, it is a deare expense:
    But herein meane I to enrich my paine,
    265To haue his sight thither, and back againe. Exit.